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PLATO Member Tim Otis Does It All!

The picture of a PLATO member fully engaged and continuously contributing, TIM OTIS has done it all. He has served as President, done 6 years as Treasurer, and been a member of and/or Chair of every PLATO Committee except Curriculum. And he has coordinated a myriad of courses. He has been active in the extreme since he joined PLATO in 2007.

Tim came to Madison in 1976, after being recruited to develop an outpatient substance abuse/mental health outpatient program as part of a large not-for-profit community based mental health center. (Now known as Journey Mental Health Center) Tim rose through the ranks before retiring as Executive Director in 2005. Following a short stint with the Madison Senior Center, where he first heard of PLATO, Tim began his PLATO “career.” During his early years he was actively involved in PLATO incorporating as a 501 (c)(3) corporation, in the first strategic planning process, the creation of the PLATO Development Fund and of the Diversity Committee.

As a course coordinator Tim has covered such topics as “The Sixties,” “How to be an Anti-racist,” “Authoritarian Governments vs Democracy,” “1968,” “The U.S. Post WWI,” and several courses focused on Bob Dylan including “Hidden Gems: Lesser-Known Songs of Bob Dylan” scheduled for this summer. According to Tim, he is not and never was an expert in any of these subjects – he just had an interest and creating a course was a good way to learn!

Tim lives on the west side of Madison with his wife, Mary Tierney, a retired social worker. He has three grown daughters and one son. Given his long term, in-depth involvement with PLATO Tim was asked how he saw the future of PLATO. “We need more communication with members to re-inspire engagement following the pandemic. There is so much talent and knowledge within the membership, we must be sure to keep people actively involved. PLATO has certainly enriched my retirement years!”

PLATO Story as told by Oakwood Village

In the Fall of 2021, PLATO moved its office from UW’s Division of Continuing Studies building to Oakwood Village University Woods campus at 6209 Mineral Point Road.

The partnership with Oakwood began years ago when the facility began hosting PLATO classes and lectures, and it has continued to grow culminating now with PLATO’s new office location. Oakwood has been an extremely accommodating and welcoming “host”.

Please follow this link to see how Oakwood has described and promoted PLATO in a feature story published in its semi-annual Outlook Magazine, which is shared with Oakwood Village residents and families.

Meet Dynamic Volunteer Duo - Carla and Mike DiIorio

The P in PLATO stands for participatory. Without members willing to give their time and talent, there would be no PLATO. Carla and Mike DiIorio exemplify what it means to participate! This dynamic duo joined PLATO when they retired; Carla retired in 2010 and Mike in 2011. They have been volunteering ever since — Carla on the Special Events Committee and Mike on both the Technology and Special Events Committees, and the Diversity Committee for the past four years. He is responsible for organizing the popular Special Event walks in the area's county parks and Ice Age trail segments.

Carla, who grew up outside of Milwaukee, came to Madison to attend the University of Wisconsin and never left. She was a reference librarian for 40 years at the Madison Public Library Central Branch. "I had a friend who talked about what she did with PLATO, which excited me to join when I retired." Carla has chaired the Special Events Committee twice and is currently the Co-Chair along with Mike.

Mike was a natural for Scott Kolar to recruit to the Technology Committee. Mike has an undergraduate degree in data processing and came to UW-Madison for his graduate degree. "When I joined the Committee, Scott and the board were creating an online course catalog and membership system and would soon implement an online registrations system." He confesses to failing at retirement. After 36 years as a systems engineer for public and private enterprises, he went to MATC for a Nursing degree. Mike then worked for ten years at Sauk Prairie and the UW hospitals.

Not surprisingly, PLATO isn't the DiIorio's only volunteer activity. Both are avid gardeners and enjoy working as volunteers at Olbrich Garden. They also are involved with Friendship Force, an organization that fosters international goodwill and understanding through travel. As members of the Madison Chapter, they have hosted visitors from around the world. These two avid travelers have two COVID-postponed trips on their schedule for this year: one trip to Northern Italy and the Loire Valley and another to Tanzania. They sing with the Edgewood Chorale, are members of book groups, ride their e-bikes, and attend American Players Theater, Forward Theatre, and Madison Symphony performances if not already busy enough.

When Carla and Mike married 44 years ago, they created a blended family of three young boys. Today, twins David and Keith live in Madison and their third son, Mike, in North Carolina with his two children, Mike and Carla's grandchildren Morgan and Dylan.

"Since joining PLATO 12 and 11 years ago, we've watched the organization evolve and grow its offerings and membership. Perhaps its major accomplishment has been to survive the pandemic, thanks to a strong Executive Committee and Board!"
Carla and Mike say they look forward to continuing their volunteer involvement with PLATO.

Janet Cabot

PLATO is proudly supported in part by Oakwood Village.

PLATO is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in association with:

for more information, contact us at:



6209 Mineral Point Road #203
Madison, WI 53705

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